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You’re Not Taking “Radical” Away From Us, Bill!

Posted by keith on 6th December 2011

On Monday 5th December, 2011, Bill McKibben, author and figurehead-leader of wrote the following in the Daily Kos:

You think OWS is radical? You think was radical for helping organize mass civil disobedience in DC in August against the Keystone Pipeline? We’re not radical. Radicals work for oil companies. The CEO of Exxon gets up every morning and goes to work changing the chemical composition of the atmosphere. No one has ever done anything as radical as that, not in all of human history.

Bill McKibben is wrong, in almost every way possible…almost. The following phrase is entirely correct:

We’re [] not radical.

Correct, are a mainstream, symbolic protest group. Some of the supporters may be radical, but not the organisation.

The following phrase is correct, but not exclusively, and not at all in the way Bill claims:

Radicals work for oil companies.

The reason this phrase is correct is because genuine radicals exist in every walk of life, whether in oil companies, government, retail, social care, community work…anywhere there are people then there are potential radicals. Bill McKibben would like this not to be true, because Bill McKibben until very recently thought that he was a radical. In an interview with The Ecologist in July 2009, he said the following:

Do I think that Copenhagen will produce an agreement that gets us back to 350 anytime soon? No. It’s too radical a target for the political world at the moment. But getting it out there will move that process further in the direction of science. We are well behind the curve now and catching up is going to be extremely difficult. With 350 at least we know where the curve is. It’s arguably the most important number in the world. It sets a boundary condition for our civilisation to work.

Over the last 2 or 3 years, Bill McKibben has defined his work around the number 350, a number he considers to be too radical for the “political world” (whatever that is) and presumably for the oil companies that he has now accused of being radical. This is cock-eyed to say the least, but more than this it is deeply offensive to the people who consider themselves to be genuine radicals for two reasons. First, to compare the oil industry in semantic terms to the people who work on the very edges of society, taking huge risks and carrying out things in the name of a living planet that few (civilized) people would even dream of doing, is abhorrant. Organisations such as WWF, Live Earth and CAN International, which are counted among’s partners, are far closer to the corporate-industrial mindset, then they are to the genuine radical activists who are trying to undermine the industrial system that is killing the planet.

Second, Bill is attempting to redefine what the word “radical” means in the context of environmental action and consciousness. You cannot distance a word from its context: if I take a shit then that’s simply what I am doing; if I accuse someone of being a total shit then it’s another word entirely. The context in which Bill McKibben is speaking is that of combating civilized (“anthropogenic” is incorrect) climate change, and the word “radical” has close connotations – positive and negative, depending on your viewpoint – with the people who are taking a stand way beyond that of the mainstream paradigm that and their ilk occupy. Like the corporate hijacking of the word “green”, any attempt to hijack the word “radical” from those that pride themselves in its meaning is unacceptable and counterproductive.

Or maybe it’s not counterproductive, as far as Bill McKibben is concerned. Maybe he has started to realise that 350 is the wrong number, and that no amount of symbolic, pandering to politics “action” will make the blindest bit of difference to the state of the global ecology except perhaps make things a lot worse because we are so busy signing petitions and sitting on government building steps we have forgotten to think differently. Maybe he understands that the real radicals are right, and he is afraid to admit he is wrong.

Posted in Campaigns, Celebrity Hypocrisy, NGO Hypocrisy, Symbolic Action | No Comments »

Occupy Wall Street: The Futility and the Opportunity

Posted by keith on 18th October 2011

Occupy Wall Street Placard - The Guardian

There are a couple of quotations which I would like to share with you. Read them carefully; they will possibly make you angry, or perhaps you will be nodding furiously in agreement with one if not both of them. They are important quotations. This is the first:

One will find hundreds, sometimes thousands, assembled in an orderly fashion, listening to selected speakers calling for an end to this or that aspect of lethal state activity, carrying signs “demanding” the same thing…and – typically – the whole thing is quietly disbanded with exhortations to the assembled to “keep working” on the matter and to please sign a petition.

Throughout the whole charade it will be noticed that the state is represented by a uniformed police presence keeping a discreet distance and not interfering with the activities. And why should they? The organizers will have gone through “proper channels” to obtain permits. Surrounding the larger mass of demonstrators can be seen others…their function is to ensure the demonstrators remain “responsible,” not deviating from the state-sanctioned plan of protest.

(Ward Churchill, “Pacifism as Pathology”)

This quotation is important because it reflects very strongly on how the Occupy (Wall Street) Movement is functioning. It clearly expresses the nature of non-violent protest and occupation, which in the Westernised, symbolic mindset has been reduced to the smoking ruin of “doing what the authorities permit”. Only in Italy has the Occupy protest become significantly more than a symbolic talking shop and, of course, any semblance of violence, whether that “violence” is aimed at a shop window or an armed police guard, is absolutely, unequivocally condemned by the true representatives of the Occupy Movement.

While the vast majority of those who turned up that day remained peaceful — indeed, hostile to those battling the police — only the most violent reached the march’s planned destination. They seem to have dashed there to pre-empt the rest of the march, engaging the police in about two hours of fighting in front of the basilica. The rest, blocked by the fighting, quickly dissipated, their banners crestfallen; many detoured to the enormous field that marks the remains of the ancient Circus Maximus.

The idea that a “protester” against the capitalist system of financial elitist might could be actively hostile to someone who is battling the very forces who represent the system they are apparently protesting against is mind-boggling, not to mention illogical. But it perfectly bears out Ward Churchill’s observations of the nature of organised protest in the industrial West. Looking at the Occupy Wall Street web site reveals an article entitled “From Tahrir Square to Times Square: Protests Erupt in Over 1,500 Cities Worldwide” which focuses almost entirely on New York and conveniently skips any mention of Rome – yet the headline used the word “erupt”. Clearly any eruption has to be properly sanctioned by those calling the shots. The comments below the article are replete with complaints about the media coverage of the protests, as if coverage is what matters rather than actually achieving anything concrete (“Hey guys, we got in The Times. High fives!”). One comment is particularly revealing:

We’re pulling together world-wide. 40,000 people on the street in Germany this weekend – not enough, but a first step in the right direction. Don’t believe the news coverage about Rome (Italy): there were just under 100 troublemakers, but 200,000 peaceful protesters!!!

This speaks the language of symbolic environmental “leaders” like Bill McKibben, who count success in terms of numbers rather than results. According to the logic of the mainstream activist groups what matters is not that one person managed to disrupt a corrupt system, but that thousands of people marched in support of that one person.

I suspect that the same groups and “leaders” would be horrified if someone were to slice through the primary fibre optic cables connecting CNN or Fox News to the outside world if it interrupted coverage of the same protest; even if it meant the cessation of a constant barrage of state and corporate controlled news into the homes of the civilized millions.

That the Occupy protests provide a potential useful crucible for real action that may help remove the very systems the movement rails against (though not too much of it, please, because how would those “jobs” we all desire (are made to desire) be created?) is not in dispute; though from my experience, such gatherings are no more crucibles of real change than any other gathering of people who have an opportunity to talk. In fact, the very act of occupying without disrupting is likely to plant the idea into the heads of very many people that occupation without disruption is sufficient.

It is not. Here is the second quotation:

Revolutionary movements do not spread by contamination but by resonance. Something that is constituted here resonates with the shock wave emitted by something constituted over there. A body that resonates does so according to its own mode. An insurrection is not like a plague or a forest fire – a linear process which spreads from place to place after an initial spark. It rather takes the shape of a music, whose focal points, though dispersed in time and space, succeed in imposing the rhythm of their own vibrations, always taking on more density. To the point that any return to normal is no longer desirable or even imaginable.

When we speak of Empire we name the mechanisms of power that preventively and surgically stifle any revolutionary becoming in a situation. In this sense, Empire is not an enemy that confronts us head-on. It is a rhythm that imposes itself, a way of dispensing and dispersing reality. Less an order of the world than its sad, heavy and militaristic liquidation.

The goal of any insurrection is to become irreversible. It becomes irreversible when you’ve defeated both authority and the need for authority, property and the taste for appropriation, hegemony and the desire for hegemony. That is why the insurrectionary process carries within itself the form of its victory, or that of its defeat. Destruction has never been enough to make things irreversible. What matters is how it’s done.

(The Invisible Committee, “The Coming Insurrection”)

This quotation is important because it is. Read it again, then go and make your own occupation – in whatever form it may take – count.

Posted in Advice, Campaigns, NGO Hypocrisy, Symbolic Action | 3 Comments »

Lush’s Dirty Laundry [by Cory Morningstar]

Posted by keith on 23rd June 2011

In an unlikely alliance, Lush Cosmetics joins the Indigenous Environmental Network against the Canadian tar sands. The Lush campaign targets the tar sands, yet the CEO of Lush fails to target his own family’s dynasty built on the continued exploration of oil, gas and mining.

Today, the environmental movement has become inundated with front-groups, financed by dirty industries. These front groups often fall under the guise of foundations. Unfortunately, not even the best of the long-standing environmental groups are above becoming ensnared in such webs of deception as corporations, governments and, in this case, the global Lush brand. Such entities seek to become celebrated as “green” in a system that cannot be changed by the illusion of “green” growth. This system is destined to ultimately collapse – or kill us – whatever comes first. And this is where we are today.

The CEO of Lush, Mark Wolverton, belongs to the Wolverton family – of Canadian Wolverton Securities. The president and CEO of Wolverton Securities is Brent Wolverton, Mark’s brother. Wolverton Securities was founded in the early 1900s and continues to thrive today with an annual revenue of $20,735,400.

From the Wolverton website:

“Taking advantage of our expertise. Western Canada may well be the venture capital centre of the world, especially when it comes to mining and oil and gas exploration. Wolverton is a primary player in that market for this simple reason: If you look at mining operations in Siberia, South Africa or the jungles of South America, Canadians are running and financing the operations.”

Time Magazine article 2003: “Lush first made its way to North America thanks to brokerage scion Mark Wolverton of Canada’s Wolverton Securities.”

Wolverton has controlled Lush’s North American operations since 1996 – 50% in Canada and 40% in the US. According to the Retail Merchandisers, Strategy for Growth Website, approximately $90 million of the company’s global annual sales of $350 million come from its North American operations, comprising manufacturing facilities and distribution via storefronts, malls, airports, and a store-within-a-store concept in which Lush has a 300- to 500-square-foot store in the cosmetic department at 38 Macy stores. (The New Zealand Herald cites Lush sales at 595 million in 2009).

As found on the web:

“On the research side, Blackmont hired Gord Currie away from Wolverton Securities. The oil and gas analyst has 29 years of experience in the sector, including executive stints in the industry at NAL Oil and Gas Trust and Easton Drilling Fund.”

Ironically, Wolverton Securities Ltd’s Calgary office is actually situated in the Royal Bank Building. Royal Bank Canada is one of the world’s largest financier of the tar sands.

Mile long list of corporations affiliated with Wolverton Securities Ltd:

The reason Lush CEO Mark Wolverton would support such a hypocritical campaign is nothing new. It’s fantastic branding. It makes people feel good when they buy a bar of soap. It raises awareness – without threatening the industry (or his family’s fortune) in any meaningful way. It builds brand loyalty. And I will be the first one to say – Lush executes such branding/marketing brilliantly.

Read the full story, including a host of bad news for Lush fans over here

Posted in Campaigns, Company Policies, Corporate Hypocrisy | No Comments »

Switch Your Lights ON for Earth Hour!

Posted by keith on 24th March 2011

Earth Hour Sucks tower block

Once upon a time there was just greenwash: corporations and governments went to great lengths to convince a concerned public that they were doing everything they could to help the natural environment return to its former glory. All the time they were filling their bank accounts and pumping up their career prospects. You could be green and profitable and no one would suspect the former was nothing but a lie.

Then the non-profits got involved and things started to become complicated. Partnerships were drawn up between the biggest “environmental” NGOs and the most destructive corporations on Earth, all for a tiny sliver of the corporate pie, and a large wad of environmental fuzziness. The corporations looked good; the NGOs got their funding; the planet continued to fry and die.

And then it went even further. Greenwash became partnership became parody as the NGOs fully embraced both the corporate world and the trivial activities they put forward as symbols of their committment to a better world. And a better world it would be: if all you cared about was making money, that is.

Earth Hour 2011 is nearly upon us, and it stands as the ultimate parody of this great coming together of all that is evil in the world of greenwashing. I don’t use the term “evil” lightly. A person cannot be evil; an action can. Earth Hour is evil because it not only allows corporations, politicians, urban sprawls and industrial monoliths to look good in the eyes of a naive public, it actively attacks genuine attempts to try and undermine the very things that feed off Earth Day. An ordinary person in the thrall of industrial civilization cannot fail to be impressed by the sight of a thousand buildings simultaneously switching off their lights in the name of planet Earth; how can something as mundane as building non-dependent communities compete with such glamour.

How can supergluing the valves on the Las Vegas fountains compete with the casinos on the strip switching off their lights for an hour?

How can setting up a community barter scheme compete with Canary Wharf in London switching off its lights for an hour?

How can creating food self-sufficiency compete with Sears in Canada switching off or dimming its lights for an hour?

How can groups of people finding that time spent embracing their local environment rather than jetting across the world compete with Skycity in New Zealand switching off its lights for an hour?

Well, exactly. It’s bullshit, all of it!

And that is why, for Earth Hour 2011, at 8.30pm on Saturday 26th March, if you are doing nothing more important then switch all your lights on. Every single one.

You might have to fight with that part of you that says, “This is wasteful!” but you need to fight it. That one hour spent consciously doing the exact opposite of what the industrial system would like you to think is the right thing to do is what will help cut that link between the machine and your own individual humanity.

Earth Hour is Evil.


Posted in Campaigns, Corporate Hypocrisy, NGO Hypocrisy, Political Hypocrisy, Sabotage, Symbolic Action | 22 Comments »

Nature Conservancy Embrace Dow Chemical Business Model

Posted by keith on 27th January 2011

Below is a long list of chemical compounds and elements. This is not just an ordinary list, for it is special in all sorts of ways – not least of all to anyone who is a supporter of our old friends The Nature Conservancy. The list contains just those substances that the US Environmental Protection Agency deem it necessary for companies to declare, and which have been declared by one particular company, for just one site:


But not only is this a list of substances merely declared, it is a list of substances that have been released into the environment beyond the legal boundaries of the site: The Dow Chemical plant, Plaquemine, Louisiana. Every one of these substances is classified as a pollutant by the EPA; every one of these substances is out of the control of Dow Chemical.

This list is not from 1940, or even 1970, but 2009. In 2009, this one plant released half a ton of lead; a pound of dioxin; 12 tons of benzene; 32 pounds of mercury…go and look for yourself if you want. It’s all in a handily downloadable file.

This is just one site, albeit a big one, from the EPA list, which only covers the USA. According to Dow Chemical themselves, “China is Dow’s second largest country in terms of sales, with 5 business centers, 20 manufacturing sites and approximately 3,900 employees.” That’s one more nation: 20 more sites, none of which are under such close scrutiny as in the USA.

The nature of Dow Chemical is the manufacturing and processing of industrial products. This is a good snapshot of the corporation:

The Dow Chemical Company is the world’s second largest chemical company, behind only BASF. Dow’s primary industries are chemicals, herbicides, pesticides, agricultural sciences and plastics. Dow’s main business is supplying chemicals to other industrial and chemical companies. Using oil, coals, natural gas, salt, brine and other basic inputs, Dow makes inorganic chemicals like soda, solvents, and chlorine, and organic chemicals like acetone, ethylene glycol, glycerine, phenols, etc. Dow is also the biggest plastics manufacturer in the world.

The page from which this comes is required reading for anyone who wants to absorb (and, no doubt, your body already has) the nature of Dow’s business. Like any corporation, they exist to make money for their shareholders – and like any corporation, if they can get away with something to increase shareholder profit then they will. It’s the nature of capitalism; the name of the game.

If you visit Dow’s website, then you will notice something truly striking: a bloody great mountain; a pristine lake; desert sands and an ocean full of tropical fish. That thing about getting away with something – Dow have mastered the art. While few people will ever read the EPA reports on Dow’s toxic releases, many people will go to Dow’s website and be confronted with a tableau of nature’s bounty, and the following words:

The Nature Conservancy Collaboration

Leaping in head first to the challenge of “protecting nature” in partnership with Dow chemical is The Nature Conservancy, which Dow have kindly furnished with $10 million over a five year period.

According to TNC: “The Nature Conservancy and Dow Chemical Company are working together on a breakthrough collaboration to demonstrate that protecting nature can be a global business strategy – and a corporate priority. Dow and its foundation together have committed $10 million over the next five years to develop tools and demonstrate models for valuing nature in business decisions. With the help of the Conservancy, Dow will work to incorporate biodiversity and the value of nature into its company-wide goals, strategies and objectives. With support from Dow’s foundation, the Conservancy will use lessons learned, collaborative scientific analyses, and its own conservation experience to pursue wide-spread use of these conservation tools by other companies.”

$10 million may seem like a lot of money to you and me, but to Dow Chemical it’s just 0.3% of their annual profit (as of 2009) – yes, that’s profit, not income, which is 3 times as much. Actually it’s even less because Dow can claw much of that investment back in charitable giving rebates. And what do Dow Chemical get for that $2 million a year?

They get branding – everywhere, on their websites, on the Nature Conservancy’s website, on their corporate materials (The Nature Conservancy logo), on every billboard and TV ad they are no doubt planning to roll out in order to make the most of their “partnership”.

They get fantastic PR – just do a quick search on “Dow Chemical” and “Nature Conservancy” and as of today there are 115,000 hits on Google. More specifically, do a search for “Dow Chemical” and “protecting the earth” and you get 2,590 results and counting. Dow look like a great, green company.

They make money – just look at the wording of the joint press release from Dow and TNC:

MIDLAND, MICHIGAN – January 24, 2011 – Andrew Liveris, chairman and chief executive officer of The Dow Chemical Company (NYSE: DOW) and Mark Tercek, chief executive officer of The Nature Conservancy jointly announced today a new collaboration between the organizations to help Dow and other companies recognize, value and incorporate nature into global business goals, decisions and strategies. The senior leaders issued the news to some of the world’s foremost business, environmental and sustainability leaders, dignitaries and media at the Detroit Economic Club.

The global organizations will work together to apply scientific knowledge and experience to examine how Dow’s operations rely on and affect nature. The aim of the collaboration is to advance the incorporation of the value of nature into business, and to take action to protect the earth’s natural systems and the services they provide people, for the benefit of business and society. One of the major objectives of this collaboration is to share all tools, lessons learned and results publicly and through peer-review so that other companies, scientists and interested parties can test and apply them.

“This collaboration is designed to help us innovate new approaches to critical world challenges while demonstrating that environmental conservation is not just good for nature – it is good for business,” Liveris said. “Companies that value and integrate biodiversity and ecosystem services into their strategic plans are best positioned for the future by operationalizing sustainability. At Dow, we see sustainability as an adjective and one that we apply to almost everything we do: sustainable manufacturing, sustainable solutions and sustainable opportunities to constantly add to the quality of life for our communities and fellow citizens. Today, tomorrow, always.”

What a crock of shit! I have emphasised the parts that betray the true reason for the deal because they have so carefully been wrapped in a shawl of greewash, ably assisted by one of the largest NGOs in the world. Dow Chemical have hamstrung not only the business-friendly Nature Conservancy, but anyone who really believes that business can work in partnership with nature.

The whole concept of “nature” as an entity is alien to the business world except as a resource to be exploited for profit; the PR copy version of “Nature” might benefit – hey, want to see a pristine lake protected by Dow’s money? – but look beyond that lake, into the soil, the underground water supplies, up into the air, down through the oceans and weaving our way through the organic tapestry of life that is being picked apart, terminally frayed by the activities of the industrial world. Look beyond the glowing, rhetoric laden bullshit touted by companies like Dow, dutifully spewed out by dangerous NGOs like The Nature Conservancy, and you see something that should never have been.

A ruined world: Today, tomorrow, always.

Or at least until the industrial system is gone.

Posted in Campaigns, Corporate Hypocrisy, NGO Hypocrisy, Sponsorship | 8 Comments »

Operation Christmas Child: Christian Fundamentalism in a Box

Posted by keith on 18th November 2010

Operation Christmas Child convert christian samaritan's purse

Somewhere in the minds of millions of children there exists a place where Christmas is every day, and gifts appear beneath the eternal tree and at the foot of the magical fireplace whenever their back is turned. In the hearts of millions of children the joy of giving is equally precious as the joy of being the recipient of gifts, given in good faith and without prejudice. This Christmas as every Christmas for the last 20 years, the organisation called Operation Christmas Child has been hard at work across the world persuading children, along with their parents, to pack a shoebox with simple things to provide a seasonal present to someone without the financial ability (or desire) to have such things.

In the UK, the message is clear:

Operation Christmas Child is the largest children’s Christmas project in the world, run by the Christian charity Samaritan’s Purse. In 2010, we celebrate 20 years of this special shoebox appeal, which has already brought joy into the lives of over 80 million children worldwide.

In its simplest form, it is all about a gift – given by you to a child in need. You wrap and pack it, we check and send it, and our partners overseas deliver it. It’s that simple.

Last year, over 500,000 people from right across the UK and Ireland got involved – including many churches, schools and workplaces. Children and adults alike wrapped and packed almost 1.2 million shoeboxes (from the UK) and over 200,000 (from Ireland) full of gifts and goodies, which were then sent to orphans and vulnerable children living in often difficult circumstances overseas

This is a message of God’s love allowing those with to help those without. Ok, so there is the matter of this being a Christian charity: “For the past 20 years, Operation Christmas Child has shown that there’s power in a simple gift. It has grown to become the largest Christmas shoebox appeal in the UK, demonstrating God’s love in a tangible way to millions of children around the world.” But who are we to begrudge believers the ability to be generous from their heart.

And now the American version:

8 MILLION CHILDREN received your shoe boxes last year

OVER 130 COUNTRIES have received shoe boxes since 1993

ONE MISSION: To demonstrate God’s love in a tangible way to needy children around the world, and together with the local church worldwide, to share the Good News of Jesus Christ.

Same organisation, different wording: now it is a mission, with the aim of spreading The Word. I guess the USA has a greater tolerance to Evangelism than the UK for, make no mistake, that is what Operation Christmas Child is about. For a few years a small group of people have been trying to make this clear to the millions of children and adults who take part in the scheme that the “gift” being sent by the parent organisation Samaritan’s Purse, is not the box, but the message that comes with the box. Here’s a frame from that message:

It is the stated aim of Samaritan’s Purse that wherever possible the booklet “The Most Important Story Ever Told” is to be enclosed in or accompany every shoebox – that is why the boxes are not allowed to be sealed prior to shipment: so that the literature can be enclosed where the destination country has deemed it acceptable. Of course, even if the destination country doesn’t allow the booklet inside, it will be sent with the box. As OCC Alert UK was told, when posing as a supporter:

Greetings from Samaritan’s Purse and Operation Christmas Child.

You are correct in your assumption that “The Most Important Story Ever Told” and “The Greatest Gift Of All” are basically one in the same. Samaritan’s Purse has adopted this version for distribution with each shoebox gift as a tool for evangelism. Should you need additional assistance, please let us know. It is because of caring people like you that this project is so successful. Have a blessed day!


Jessica Tabler
Operation Christmas Child
Samaritan’s Purse
P.O. Box 3000
Boone, NC 28607
(828)262-1980 ext. 1493

Despite the nice words of OCC in the UK, the shoebox is a tool for evangelism.

Now let’s suppose you are the kind of person who maybe tolerates, or even welcomes, the conversion of non-Christians into Christians; after all, it is the duty of a Christian to convert others to their faith. What would you think if I told you that the organisation responsible for Operation Christmas Child views all other beliefs as “dark”, to the extent that people who do not follow the particular form of Evangelical Christianity espoused by their leader, Franklin Graham, are accused of witchcraft and occultism?

This excerpt from the newsletter of October 2009 makes me feel sick:

I’d like to share with you just one story about what God did in a little village in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Mimbulu is a collection of mud-brick houses and thatched huts with no electricity or running water. Most of the villagers are subsistence farmers living on far less than $1 a day. You can imagine how happy and excited the children were when our team handed out shoe box gifts from Operation Christmas Child. Later, hundreds of girls and boys signed up for our Discipleship Program, and most of them made commitments to Jesus Christ through the Bible study course.

Traditional religions and occult practices are common in this part of Africa, but many people in Mimbulu have been delivered from spiritual darkness as a result of this evangelistic outreach. Three girls, all under the age of 10, confessed to being involved in witchcraft, repented of their sins, and accepted the Lord Jesus Christ. One cult leader, after reading his son’s Bible lessons, renounced his false religion and surrendered his life to the Lord. Other adults turned to Christ at the graduation ceremony where they heard their children recite Scripture and listened to a pastor preach the Gospel.

The Lord is doing great things in Mimbulu, and we give Him all the glory!

We treat every single gift box as a Gospel opportunity. That’s why prayer is the most important thing we ask people to do when they pack their shoe boxes for Operation Christmas Child. We want each person to pray for the child who receives the box and ask God to touch that child’s heart. That’s where the real power of Operation Christmas Child lies—in God’s answers to those millions of heartfelt prayers.

Next time someone asks you to pack a shoebox for Operation Christmas Child, or your child receives a letter home from school asking for a “gift to make a child happy”, think about the level of hardline fundamental evangelism being foisted upon people whose only “sin” was to have their own cultural beliefs. Do you really want to be responsible for that?

Posted in Campaigns, Cover Ups, Religious Hypocrisy | 8 Comments »

Million Letter March: Just Say No!

Posted by keith on 15th October 2010

If anyone sends anything to you asking to join the Million Letter March, treat it like spam.

Look, I’m being serious: it’s the idea of Lester Brown, head of the Earth Policy Institute, who’s primary driver doesn’t appear to be saving the global ecology or humanity in general, but saving civilization. Yep, that’s right: civilization – that thing which is utterly incompatible with saving humanity or the global ecology.

He has teamed up with our friend Bill McKibben and Jim Hansen (or perhaps press-ganged the latter) to start a campaign to raise some kind of fee or other to put into renewable energy and stop cap and trade. In a world where climate science permitted the current levels of greenhouse gases without causing the atmospheric-climate system to produce a global mass extinction echoeing the end of the Permian Era (90% of all life on Earth gone) then that would be fine: just go for it Lester, Bill and Jim; keep us writing those letters to “our” Senators (as opposed to the Senators who have always worked for corporations?) and pretend political changes will have any effect on our future at all.

But this is not a world like that, it is reality: a reality where we have to finally realise that NOTHING WITHIN THE EXISTING INDUSTRIAL-POLITICAL SYSTEM OFFERS US A SURVIVABLE FUTURE!

Still want to be all symbolic and lovely? Watch the excruciating video the Million Letter March has produced, and see if you can see anything at all which would make a blind bit of difference to greenhouse gas levels:

And is it just me or are there just a few too many creepy moments there?

Posted in Campaigns, NGO Hypocrisy, Symbolic Action, Techno Fixes | 5 Comments »

Rebecca Spillson’s Propaganda Machine Undermined

Posted by keith on 2nd October 2010

Everything’s fine on the Alabama coast, especially at Gulf Shores / Orange Beach, especially now it’s Shrimp Festival time. Hey! Those persistent organic toxins aren’t going to eat themselves:

Yes, that really was posted on YouTube in the last few days, [dreamily] almost as though nothing had happened in the Gulf…

Jerry Cope at Huffington Post seems a little suspicious:

In its continuing effort to protect the public from toxic chemical exposure due to crude oil and Corexit dispersants, the City Of Orange Beach, Alabama, is hosting the Thunder on the Gulf boat races to bookend the 39th Annual National Shrimp Festival the weekend of Oct. 15. Although the vast majority of locals will not go in the water or on the beaches much less consume seafood caught in the Gulf, thanks to enthusiastic misinformation from authorities and intentionally lax testing methods such as the infamous “smell test,” tens of thousands of people will be exposed to toxic chemicals through inhalation, skin absorption and ingestion.

And it’s thanks to Jerry, and his damn suspicions that I have no option but to repost this redux version of the above…

Not too sure about the politics of the poster, but I think it would be rather fun if everyone posted these two videos together, just to show a few people what propaganda really looks like:

The original (the lie):

The spoof (the truth):

Posted in Campaigns, Corporate Hypocrisy, Cover Ups, Political Hypocrisy, Spoofs | 1 Comment »

Sony Open Planet Ideas Exposed

Posted by keith on 7th September 2010

“Just imagine if today’s technology could be re-purposed in radical ways to help solve our planet’s environmental problems? Well, a new project called Open Planet Ideas has been designed to enable you to do just that.”

Ok, thought experiment, so I’m doing just that and you can join in too. What you will probably end up realising is that very little of today’s technology could ever be re-purposed to solve environmental problems; unless you can think of a way to use a billion television sets for the benefit of the natural world, or a hundred million Playstations. Yes, this is a venture by Sony; that well-known philanthropic organisation that will stop at nothing to make our world a better place, so long as it is crammed with its consumer goods.

Sony Europe and WWF to crowdsource eco technology applications with “Open Planet Ideas”

a.. Sony Europe launches Open Planet Ideas in conjunction with WWF.
b.. Open Planet Ideas is an online platform which challenges members of the public to imagine how current Sony technologies could be repurposed to tackle environmental problems.
c.. Projects may be collaborative, with online participants sharing inspiration.
d.. Those who collaborate on the winning idea will have the opportunity to work with Sony engineers and WWF specialists to bring it to life.
e.. For more information see

Just imagine if today’s technology could be re-purposed in radical ways to help solve our planet’s environmental problems? Well, a new project called Open Planet Ideas has been designed to enable you to do just that.

Open Planet Ideas is an online community that challenges you to imagine how technologies such as gaming devices, digital cameras and GPS units could be used to address environmental issues like climate change, biodiversity and water conservation.

You can share inspirations and ideas in photographs, videos and stories, and then evaluate and vote on which concepts should be developed further. Those who collaborate on the winning idea will have the opportunity to work with Sony engineers and WWF specialists to make the project a reality.

Get involved at


Clea Gray
29-35 Lexington Street
United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)20 7025 7500
Direct: +44 (0)20 7025 7551
Mobile: +44 (0)77 7560 1121

Nice of Clea to provide to much contact information – she must have really wanted people to get in touch…later.

In case anyone is unsure later on about the environmental claims being made by Sony with regards to this project, I now quote verbatim from the website, including the robust support WWF are giving to said project:

Why is Sony doing this?

As one of the world’s biggest digital entertainment companies, it’s no big surprise that at Sony we believe passionately that technology can do good things. But we also believe that people can make really amazing things happen when they get together.

We’ve created Open Planet Ideas as part of our commitment to help create a more sustainable environment for current and future generations. And we’ve also built it to show that communities can play a vital role in accelerating the pace of technological, social and environmental change.

At Sony we believe strongly that technology can play a key role in solving some of the environmental issues facing the planet. Reflecting this philosophy, we’ve also set ourselves strict sustainability targets that include lowering energy consumption, re-using materials and recycling more. We also look beyond our products to support eco initiatives that could benefit from using our technologies and products for environmental gain.

Why is WWF doing this?

At WWF we’re always open to embracing new ideas – especially those that help raise awareness of today’s environmental issues, inspire solutions-oriented responses and ultimately benefit our one and only planet.

We also believe that we can’t do everything alone. That’s why we have a long and successful track record of working in partnership with others – including some of the world’s leading companies – to raise standards, drive sustainability and bring about positive change.

WWF’s corporate partners use their voice to make change happen. And this is exactly what Open Planet Ideas is also about: leveraging the amazing potential of modern technology to make a positive contribution to the environment and to society.

Our vision is one of a world where people live in harmony with nature. We’re positive that by working together constructively we can, and will, solve current problems. Especially if we use the great tools and resources that we have at our disposal – and above all, our ability to think creatively and innovate.

(my emphasis)

Not surprisingly, I wasn’t completely convinced that Sony were really showing “commitment to…a more sustainable environment”, given their entire business model depends upon shifting as many new electronic items to consumption slaves as humanly possible. I had a short email dialogue with Clea:

To: Clea Gray
Subject: Re: Sony Europe and WWF launch “Open Planet Ideas”

So, Clea, what Sony and WWF are proposing is that all Sony products sold will now have a positive effect on the environment. Yes?

I’m slightly surprised that any high complexity technology that relies on an industrial infrastructure could ever be environmentally friendly, but I’m willing to listen if you could explain the theory.



To: Keith Farnish
Subject: RE: Sony Europe and WWF launch “Open Planet Ideas”

Hi Keith,

Thanks very much for your e-mail.

Sony in not trying to crowdsource for new ideas on how it’s technology can become more environmentally friendly but rather trying to encourage the public to collectively create ideas around how existing Sony technology can be repurposed and redesigned to help tackle some of the worlds key environmental problems (defining a specific issue is the first stage of the Open Planet Ideas campaign).

This kind of approach to re-using current technologies was first demonstrated by Sony last year in the Forest Guard project. Working with Sony, a group of young people from California conceived the novel use of Sony’s IPELA security cameras, wireless networks and photo-stitching software to create an online community of citizen firewatchers, monitoring at-risk areas where forest fires are a major environmental threat.

I hope this answers your question, Sony and WWF are holding a breakfast media briefing event for ‘Open Plant Ideas’ on the 10th Sept at the National Geographic store on Regent Street, London which you are more than welcome to attend.

Here is a brief outline of the itinerary:

09:15 Arrive at National Geographic Store, 83-97 Regent Street, London, W1B 4EW
Coffees & welcome
09:30 Adrian Northover-Smith, Sony – introduction to Open Planet Ideas
09:40 Celebrity spokesperson
09:55 Open Planet Ideas – demonstration of key features
10:15 Dax Lovegrove, WWF
10:25 Q&A sessions
10:40 Photo shoot
11:05 121 interviews and breakout-sessions
11.30 Depart

Please let me know of you will be able to make it or if you need any more information.



So now, not only are WWF getting in on the act, but our old car advert loving friend National Geographic are hosting a conference, which I wholeheartedly recommend you attend and make your opinions felt…

To: Clea Gray
Subject: Re: Sony Europe and WWF launch “Open Planet Ideas”

Hi Clea

You seem to have answered every question except for the one I asked:

“So, Clea, what Sony and WWF are proposing is that all Sony products sold will now have a positive effect on the environment. Yes?”

The implication being that something like a Playstation – the function of which, at the lowest level, is to make Sony money; but at a more superficial level, to entertain people, or rather distract them from the real world – can have a net environmental benefit. I would be keen to see Sony’s calculations, as to this net benefit.



To: Keith Farnish
Subject: RE: Sony Europe and WWF launch “Open Planet Ideas”

Hi Keith,

I’m happy to talk through the Open Planet Ideas project in more detail, it might be best to do so over the telephone. Do you have a contact number I can call you on?



So call her up I did. Because Grayling are a PR company which, no doubt, want to ensure their efforts touch as many people as possible, I think it’s only fair you get the chance to hear the recording too. To add to the listening experience there are also a few links that you need to be aware of which are to pages referred to in the conversation.

Grayling’s PR activities in industry:

The NGO Perception Audit:

That dreadful gas pipeline work:

Now for that phone call.

And in case you’re wondering, no one has got back to me yet.

Posted in Campaigns, Corporate Hypocrisy, NGO Hypocrisy, Sponsorship, Techno Fixes | 4 Comments »

Astroturf Alert: Rally For Jobs is Oil Industry Front

Posted by keith on 2nd September 2010

Just in from Public Citizen is a report on a series of rallies around the USA which are being organised by the American Petroleum Institute (API) on behalf of the oil industry. Here is the report:

Rallies Against Congressional Oil Spill Measures Represent Industry Views – Not Citizens

Today marks the start of rallies across the country organized by the oil and gas industry to block Congress from passing much-needed measures to address problems that came to light during the BP Gulf of Mexico disaster.

The American Petroleum Institute (API), which is organizing the events in Texas, Ohio, Illinois, New Mexico and Colorado, claims to speak not only for industry workers but for “countless consumers” who are concerned about the proposals.

Don’t be fooled. This is phony grassroots. Americans were aghast at the BP oil disaster and what they learned subsequently: that the government exercises little oversight over offshore oil drilling, that there is a ridiculously low cap on oil industry liability in the event of a major spill, that technology has far outpaced the safety measures and much more.

In response, lawmakers drafted legislation that would set new safety standards for blowout preventers and other equipment intended to shut off wells in an emergency, eliminate the existing $75 million cap for oil companies’ liability for spills, restructure the industry-friendly agency formerly known as the Minerals Management Service, reform the royalty system to ensure oil companies pay their fair share to taxpayers for use of public land, and add protections for whistleblowers who call attention to safety violations in oil and gas operations, among other things.

By staging these rallies, API is trying to distort public perception. In fact, people want the government to ensure that another BP oil disaster never happens again. Lawmakers would be derelict in their duty if they didn’t respond to the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history.

Last summer, API President Jack Gerard sent a memo to API member groups that laid out a plan to create astroturf rallies as a tactic to oppose climate change legislation. The memo asked recipients to give API “the name of one central coordinator for your company’s involvement in the rallies.” And it warned: “Please treat this information as sensitive … we don’t want critics to know our game plan.”

Well, a year later, the game plan hasn’t changed, but the legislative focus has. We can’t let API – and its fake grassroots and well-funded media campaign – kill the oil spill bill.

The astroturfing is pretty blatant, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see API banners at the rallies; but just in case the links aren’t clear, the rallies are being organised under the banner “Rally For Jobs”, which is coincidentally the current headline graphic on the API web site. If you go to the “partners” page on the Rally For Jobs website then the American Petroleum Institute are there, standing in pride of place atop such other great social instututions as…

American Highway Users Alliance: An Astroturf, funded by Ford, UPS, Lafarge Cement, Chevron, General Motors and Toyota, among other. See their 990 filing section on 2007 Directors.

Americans for Tax Reform: A heavily funded conservative advocacy group – last filing in 2007 showed assets of over $7million.

Coalition for Affordable American Energy: A shell organisation (their website is defunct) founded by the US Chambers of Commerce

Freedom Works: An astroturf that organises huge rallies, founded as an offshoot from Citizens for a Sound Economy. In reality, Freedom Works is a free-market lobby organisation.

To be fair, though, there is no attempt to hide the more obvious sources of Rally For Jobs’ attitude towards pollution legislation (not that the legislation would have any teeth, anyway), for the list of partners is replete with industry bodies such as Air Transport Association, the Internation Association of Drilling Contractors, and the National Ocean Industries Association. In short, Rally For Jobs is Rally For Oil.

Then again, what would you expect? if you support wage slavery, then you must expect to get your hands dirty…

Posted in Astroturfs, Campaigns, Corporate Hypocrisy | No Comments »